How can integrated digital solutions help your SME?
“The majority of small and medium businesses are more reliant on innovation to get work done than ever before,” says Heinrich de Leeuw, Managing Director, Seidor Africa.
Given the rapid speed at which worldwide companies are evolving, business leaders may feel pressured to digital overhaul their business. Fortunately, it’s not as complicated as it sounds.
Digitisation may seem like a modern concept, but it has actually been around for more than 30 years. Born in the late 1990s, it became popular in the mid-2000s with the computerisation of the workplace. The term “digital transformation” originated in the mid to late 2010s when it started to become a popular trend. This phrase has historically been used to describe the shift from manual to digital processes in many industries including retail, wholesale and distribution.
ERP systems such as SAP Business One – which automates key business functions in finance, operations and human resources among others – are now indispensable for SMEs as organisations begin to harness and benefit from the power of automation.
The ability to access a single source of data has had a significant impact on B2B companies, especially those with large or complex inventories.
Integrated business management systems have been extended to a company's B2B or B2C sales channels through integrated e-commerce functionality. Businesses have been able to implement ERP, launch integrated e-commerce solutions and start selling their products online – via online stores and customer portals – with intelligent sales automation driven by an integrated and affordable system.
While many companies have embraced this growing trend in e-commerce, others have continued to apply a more traditional business model.
Fast forward to the present
In 2020, the global COVID-19 pandemic forced many businesses to close their doors with little or no warning, leaving them with an uncertain future. At the same time, the demand for online shopping grew rapidly as consumers looked for new ways to procure.
SMEs are now more reliant on innovation than ever to get work done. Companies that were equipped with an e-commerce solution have been able to quickly scale their business to sell entirely online. Not only were these businesses perfectly positioned to survive the effects of the pandemic, but in many cases they thrived.
By contrast, SMEs without an online or digital presence found themselves extremely exposed. What was once considered a project for the future by some, has become an emergency requirement for businesses seeking to meet customer demand and maintain revenue.
It was a year that history repeated itself. In 2003, the SARS epidemic in China sparked the biggest e-commerce boom the world has ever seen. Alibaba's B2B e-commerce business grew by 50% due to the explosion of sales on its platform, proving that opportunities can be found in times of crisis.
A McKinsey & Company report, titled: How B2B Decision Makers Are Responding To the Coronavirus Crisis, revealed three emerging trends:
- Spend – While companies are generally reducing spend, a sizeable number are increasing or maintaining it, with rates depending on company size, sector and –more than any other factor – location in the world.
- Digital – Looking forward, B2B companies see digital interactions as two to three times more important to their customers than traditional sales interactions.
- Remote – Almost 90% of sales have moved to a video conferencing (VC)/phone/web sales model, and while some scepticism remains, more than half of the companies believe this is equally or more effective than sales models used before COVID-19.
The new go-to-market models, developed in response to shifting B2B customer preferences, are unlikely to disappear after the pandemic. The survey results can help B2B companies guide their organisation's response to COVID-19 (or any future pandemic) in several ways:
- Navigate the current crisis with determination and resilience;
- Plan for recovery; and
- Reimagine the next "normal".
There is still a lot of uncertainty, but B2B companies are seeing many signs that show an acceleration of existing trends, such as:
- Omnichannel selling;
- Inside selling;
- Technology-assisted selling; and
Change is not always easy, but the facts are clear: when it comes to B2B businesses and their future, it is essential to be flexible and have the right solutions to deal with the unexpected.
Find out how Seidor Africa can help your business adapt and prepare for the future in these uncertain times with our range of digital solutions and affordable B2B innovations.